Since the birth of my first daughter I have impressed upon my husband the importance of exposing her to the right kind of messaging about ‘beauty’ and what constitutes ‘being pretty.’ I have been relentless in reminding him about the damage that can be done to young girls even at a very early age if they hear or see us putting too much emphasis on physical beauty.
With the birth of our second daughter, the stakes grew even higher. Doubled, some math experts might say.
I repeatedly remind him that the rest of the world will expose our girls to so many negative ideas about beauty and body image. It’s imperative that we model healthy behaviors, words, images in order for them to be strong, healthy, confident women.
I have beaten this issue so far into my husband’s brain that he is afraid to compliment my appearance in front of my daughter. He knows better than to say, “Doesn’t Mommy look pretty?” Surely this type of overt acknowledgement that I have showered and am wearing something other than yoga pants could instantly set my daughter on the path to an eating disorder, prostitution, or drug use.
Instead, the only compliment he feels safe saying is, “Doesn’t Mommy look . . . tall?” However he has recognized my height so many times that now I fear she will have a complex if she is anything shorter than 5’10”.
Now that you’ve seen a glimpse into my neurosis, I’ll share a brief tale from last week.
We received a kids’ costume catalog in the mail. I flipped through it quickly and saw the usual superheroes, a witch, some princesses (don’t bother pointing out the damage those Disney divas can do…trust me, I’ve already thought it, but I’ve found it impossible to avoid them completely…I just filter as much as I can).
I needed something to distract my daughter from her impending meltdown, so I gave her the catalog while I fed the baby.
Imagine my horror when 20 minutes later I walked over to the couch and found her gazing with wide-eyed fascination, and I dare say adoration, at this:
SON. OF. A.
HOW did I not notice the skanky adult costumes lurking in the back of this catalog?!? HOW LONG had she been staring at these photos of sex kittens and porno fairies and slutty Sriracha sauce?
How much damage has been done here? Do I need to ship her to an Amish home for the next 10 years?
I tried to act calm and just took it away so we could eat dinner. Then at the table I casually asked her if there were any costumes she liked.
With a naughty lilt in her voice, she saucily replied, “I like the grown up costumes.”
I am so screwed.
Lyz Lenz wrote this funny/disturbing post recently about inappropriate Halloween costumes for girls. Initially it made me feel better – hey, at least my kid isn’t wearing one of these! Then I realized that in fact my child has skipped this kiddie porn category and gone straight to the big leagues. Good job filtering, Mommy.